Wind Turbine Service Technician
A wind turbine service technician could...
|Perform routine inspections on a wind turbine to make sure that it is still sound and performing optimally.||Take decibel readings from wind turbines to help engineers learn how to minimize the noise pollution.|
|Fix problems and make repairs on the blades of existing wind turbines.||Be part of a team of wind-energy professionals that builds a wind farm.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Have you ever seen a wind farm or a collection of wind turbines? When the wind blows, the turbines rotate, turning the wind into energy for communities to use. But in order for the wind turbine to produce the greatest amount of energy efficiently, a wind turbine service technician must inspect, troubleshoot, repair, and ensure that the wind turbine is in good working order. This is a job that requires no fear of heights along with great mechanical aptitude and a good working knowledge of electronics.|
|Key Requirements||Excellent mechanical aptitude, good writing and communication skills, ability to perform tasks in a challenging work environment, detail-oriented habits, a love for working outdoors|
|Minimum Degree||Associate's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Physics, algebra, geometry; if available, applied technology, computer science|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||Average (7% to 13%)|
Training, Other Qualifications
Some employers may require Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety-guidelines training in order for technicians to start working in this field.
While certification is not required to work as a wind turbine service technician, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) does provide optional certification for small wind energy system installers. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age, meet the prerequisites, such as having installed four wind systems during a four-year period prior to submitting the application, and pass a written exam. Continuing education is required to maintain certification by the NABCEP. Applicants must complete 18 hours of continuing education within three years of their initial certification. The education requirements consist of 12 hours covering the NABCEP task analysis for small wind energy system installers and six hours of small wind energy system installation instruction. In addition, installers must provide evidence of having installed three small wind energy systems during the three-year certification period.
Education and Training
The minimum degree required for an entry-level position in this field is an associate's degree. Entry-level wind turbine service technicians may have attended wind energy programs at community colleges or vocational schools to acquire the technical skills needed for the wind-energy industry. Entry-level wind turbine service technicians generally receive on-the-job training by working with an experienced wind technician. Entrants into this occupation frequently transfer into wind-energy occupations from related construction or mechanical fields.
Nature of the Work
Wind is a renewable energy resource. Wind turbines convert the energy from the wind into mechanical or electrical energy. The electrical energy that is generated from the wind turbines can be used to power homes and businesses or sold to utility companies. Wind turbine service technicians inspect, diagnose, adjust, or repair the external and internal components of wind turbines. They perform regular service and maintenance on the equipment, including oil changes and gearbox lubrication. Wind turbine service technicians adjust electrical or electronic equipment and repair any non-working mechanical devices. They also help with the construction and installation of wind turbines. Wind turbine service technicians should be able to understand manuals, blueprints, schematics, and diagrams so that they can troubleshoot any electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic malfunctions. They document all work performed on computer-based reporting programs and maintain a detailed parts list.
Wind turbine service technicians use a variety of tools, including computers, cordless drills, grease guns, harnesses, hammers, multimeter testing kits, torque wrenches, welding equipment, and wire cutters.
- Blade technicians inspect, service, repair, or replace wind turbine blades. They perform regular service on the blades, the nacelle (the housing that encloses the mechanical parts of a wind turbine), and the nose cone by inspecting them for cracked, chipped, and warped areas. Additionally, blade technicians monitor the speed of the blades to make sure they are working at their most efficient level. Most wind-turbine blades are made of fiberglass; therefore, blade technicians should have extensive fiberglass training to perform their job properly. These technicians must also keep service records, read and follow written instructions, and understand blade schematics.
- Small wind turbine installers construct and install small wind turbines that have a 100-kilowatt capacity or lower. Most of these installations occur at private residences, businesses, or telecommunications sites. Small wind turbine installers should be familiar with the equipment and system design; many times, adjustments are required to satisfy the customer's needs.
Wind turbine service technicians work in a variety of settings, such as desert and mountainous regions, as well as manufacturing and power industry facilities. Regardless of the setting, most wind turbine service technicians work outside in all types of weather conditions. Their work consists of climbing wind towers at heights greater than 100 feet, lifting heavy tools and equipment, and working in cramped quarters at the top of towers. Some towers may require that wind turbine service technicians and their equipment be air-lifted by helicopters.
Wind turbine service technicians must be in good physical condition. They may risk suffering injuries from tools or falls; however, risks are usually minimized by following proper safety procedures. These technicians generally work a standard 40-hour week or a rotation-shift schedule. Wind turbine service technicians may also travel extensively due to a shortage of experienced technicians.
On the Job
- Inspect or repair fiberglass turbine blades.
- Troubleshoot or repair mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical malfunctions related to variable pitch systems, variable speed control systems, converter systems, or related components.
- Climb wind turbine towers to inspect, maintain, or repair equipment.
- Diagnose problems involving wind turbine generators or control systems.
- Perform routine maintenance on wind turbine equipment, underground transmission systems, wind-fields substations, or fiber-optic sensing and control systems.
- Start or restart wind turbine generator systems to ensure proper operations.
- Test electrical components of wind systems with devices such as voltage testers, multimeters, oscilloscopes, infrared testers, and fiber-optic equipment.
- Test structures, controls, or mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical systems according to test plans and in coordination with engineers.
- Assist in assembly of individual wind generators or construction of wind farms.
- Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis.
- Maintain tool and spare-parts inventories required for repair, installation, or replacement services.
- Operate manufacturing equipment to fabricate wind turbines.
- Train end-users, distributors, installers, or other technicians in wind commissioning, testing, or other technical procedures.
Companies That Hire Wind Turbine Service Technicians
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
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- The California Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Division. (2010, November 10). California Occupational Guides: Guide for Wind Turbine Service Technicians in California. Retrieved November 15, 2010, from http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/occguide/wind-turbine-service-technicians-green.pdf
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